Cycle route from Blackshaw Moor Club site
A ride in the Peak District is never likely to be flat but the scenery on this route from Blackshaw Moor Club site makes all the effort worthwhile.
The majority of the cycling routes I ride from Club sites which feature in the Magazine App each month are relatively flat and accessible to as many riders as possible. Disused railway lines, towpaths around reservoirs and the quietest, prettiest lanes make for a relaxing – rather than taxing – day out.
This ride is an exception to the rule as the route in the Peak District from Blackshaw Moor Club site will force even more committed cyclists out of the saddle. It’s still heart-stoppingly pretty, and follows blissfully quiet roads, but it’s an absolute brute in terms of gradient.
It rises 390m in altitude in 20km but in reality it’s 390m in 10km because the other half is downhill. If an average incline of just under 4% does not sound too challenging, it’s important to understand that this isn’t an even ramp and there are spikes to double-digit gradients at points.
For those with the motivation, determination and fitness to take it on – or those with e-bike assistance – the rewards are plentiful. The route is utterly gorgeous, serving up dramatic views of the dragon-backed ridge of the Roaches, wild moorland, and sweeping panoramas towards Gradbach Hill. Plus, once the climbs of the first half of the route have been conquered there are exhilarating descents to enjoy while catching your breath.
It’s a brilliant way to tackle the contours that give the Peak District its name and to savour the highlights of this lesser explored area of the National Park.
If you really don’t fancy a battle with gravity, the Manifold Trail of the former Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway is less than 10 miles to the east of Blackshaw Moor Club site while both the Tissington Trail and High Peak Trail are also nearby and offer lovely, level routes through the Peak District.
- From Blackshaw Moor Club site turn left along the A53. In 500m turn left onto Thorncliffe Lane, signposted to Thorncliffe. Continue uphill for about 1.5km to a T-junction in Thorncliffe, with a red telephone box opposite.
- 1.9km – Select your lowest gear (believe me you’ll need it!) before turning left at the T-junction. The road ramps up sharply as it climbs onto the moor. Once the road begins to plateau, there are spectacular views in all directions over wild moorland. Continue on this road for about 7km to reach a crossroads with the busy A53 (The Winking Man pub is to the right of the crossroads if you feel like a drink and a little rest to recover from the effort of the climb).
- 9km – Go straight over the crossroads, signposted to Gradbach and Allgreave. The pay-off for the earlier climbing is an electrifying descent but watch your speed because in 700m, as the road bends to the right, look out for a turn on the left.
- 9.7km – Turn left by Corner Cottage and continue on this road as it curls up around a hill, with spellbinding views ahead and to the right. Stay on the road for 4km until it turns back on itself, below the Roaches. Cross two cattle grids then look out for a turn on the right.
- 13.7km – Turn right, signposted to Leek and Meerbrook, and enjoy a freewheeling descent all the way to a T-junction in Meerbrook.
- 17.1km – Turn left at the T-junction, signposted to Leek and Blackshaw Moor, and pass the Lazy Trout pub on the left. Continue on the road over Tittesworth Water reservoir to a T-junction with the Three Horseshoes Inn on the left.
- 19.4km – Turn left at the T-junction. The entrance to Blackshaw Moor Club site is on the right in 500m.
About the route
Start/finish: Blackshaw Moor Club site, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 8TW.
Distance: 12.5 miles/20km.
Time: 90 minutes.
Level: Suitable for fit cyclists. This is a relatively short route but it starts with a 6km climb that is very steep in places and there is further climbing later on.
Terrain: Asphalt all the way. A road bike or an e-bike (make sure the batteries are fully charged!) are ideal.
Landscape: Wild moorland, rocky ridges and sweeping views over steep valleys to the hills beyond make this an eyecatching route.
Refreshments: The Winking Man, Upper Hulme; The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook; The Three Horseshoes Inn, Blackshaw Moor.